In most of our life’s activities, we have a playlist that fits our mood and provides the boost we need to get through the day. Many of us have up-tempo playlists for exercising and slow and smooth playlists for relaxation. Our online radio stations and streaming services know who we are and what we like and customize the music we hear for our tastes. However, there are some areas where even the most adaptable streaming service might not know exactly what to play.
Writing a speech is one of those areas where choosing just the right tunes can be a bit of challenge.
There are two schools of thought about what type of music works best when writing. The first school of thought advocates for soft, quiet, relaxing music to help the writer to focus on the task at hand without distraction. Classical music, jazz, or other instrumental tracks tend to work best. The second school of thought says that up-tempo music such as a rock songs can help the writer to energize and get pumped for the task at hand. Both styles of music have their benefits and drawbacks.
“I wrote my first book while listening to the music of Leonard Cohen and Evanescence,” writer Paula J. Braley once said. “When I read it over, I can hear the music in my head.”
When choosing the right music for your writing activities, consider your own personal reaction to music. Do you tend to use it to block out other sounds, or do you become deeply involved in the music? If you are using it primarily as white noise, it won’t matter as much what type of music you choose. If, however, you tend to become involved in music, it might become a distraction, and something without lyrics might be the better choice to help you to keep focused on your writing rather than what a singer is saying. Or, you might prefer another option: Listening to music from another culture or country in a foreign language. This way, you won’t focus on what the singer is saying but only on the emotion and the feeling conveyed by the song.
Similarly, the tempo of the music should reflect your own experiences as a writer. If you feel that you take energy from music, an up-tempo beat works well, but if you start rocking out to the point that you become distracted from your writing, you will be better off with a less intensive set of songs.
Ultimately, though, the songs you choose to listen to should help you to feel motivated and excited about the work you are doing. If you search the internet, you’re likely to find a number of recommendations for playlists that can help with setting a particular mood. However, the choice is really more about your own experiences and interests, and what calls to mind the feeling and emotion you want to write about.
“If I’m pondering a scene or wanting to listen to something for motivation, then I’ll pop something on appropriate,” Sean-Michael Alton Kerr told The Write Life. “Some Sia if I want a strong character moment, Amon Amarth for an epic battle scene or some classical music to just calm down my mind before starting in.”
While Kerr was speaking of writing a novel, the same applies to a speech. What mood or tone do you want the audience to take from your speech? It’s important to consider the ways that you might use music to help you get in that mood so you can effectively convey it to your audience.
No matter how you use music in your own writing, the bottom line is that music should help to enhance your speechwriting rather than to detract from it. If you find that listening to music slows you down or takes away from your focus, you will be better off turning the tunes off altogether and enjoying the ambient sounds of nature and the world around you. Sometimes, a little silence can be just what you need to get in the right headspace for writing a professional speech from scratch effectively. Either way, the sounds you listen to can transform your mood and change the way you think about your work, so be sure to choose carefully to ensure that you are in the right place for what you need to do.